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Terribly Still Singular Things
Dracula with Frank Langella and Laurence Oliver
© 2013 James LaFond
1979, Universal Pictures, 110 minutes
I am viewing and reading material pertaining to the worn out vampire genre as part of my research for the Hemavore project and in response to requests by readers. I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed this late 1970s version, made at the nadir of gothic horror, in the decade before Anne Rice resurrected the genre.
This film was based on Langella’s Broadway play. The film makers tried to tie in Bram Stoker’s material more faithfully and had some updating missteps like a laser lit love scene. The film was a departure from the book and was more tragic than frightening, more haunted than horrific, and more about emotional rather than physical penetration. What I like most about it was the Cornwall locations it was filmed in.
Langella’s role does mark a departure from the view of Dracula as a pure power projecting monster to a more manipulative and darkly sympathetic creature. The fact that Langella’s Dracula envies the light more than fearing it is, after my recent reading of Stoker, more authentic than the classical film treatments that preceded it. Also, in the book, Dracula’s wall crawling ability was graphically described, just as it is portrayed in this film. To me, the best thing about this film was its ambiguous ending, which was a complete departure from the original, which honestly, was a little too clean cut for me.
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